British tennis player Bedene to switch allegiance to Slovenia

London (AFP) –


British number two Aljaz Bedene said on Friday he intends to represent his native Slovenia so he can compete in the Davis Cup and the Olympics.

The 28-year-old, who lives in London, became a British citizen in March 2015 and among British players the world number 49 is only behind Andy Murray in the ATP rankings.

He fought an unsuccessful battle to be eligible for Britain in the Davis Cup and he admits that a desire to compete in the team event, plus the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, played a big part in his decision.

"I want to share with you that I have informed the ITF (International Tennis Federation) of my intention to represent Slovenia, my country of birth, from January 1, 2018," he wrote on Facebook.

"One of my main goals for my career going forward will be to play in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I have proudly called Britain my home for the last nine years and so many people there have made me feel welcome both in the UK and abroad.

"I am also particularly grateful for the support the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has shown me in that time and in fighting my case for the GB Davis Cup eligibility.

"It was a dream of mine to be able to compete for a country that has given me so much in the Davis Cup."

Bedene's most recent appeal to the ITF over Davis Cup eligibility was rejected in March. He was ruled out because he had represented Slovenia in three ties before switching nationality.

"At this stage in my career, I do not want to miss the opportunity to compete in the Davis Cup and the Olympics, two events that mean so much to me and that is what has informed my decision," he said.

Bedene's switch to represent Britain was not universally popular, with Dan Evans criticising the LTA for its "desperate" efforts to help him secure eligibility.

Evans, currently serving a suspension after a positive test for cocaine, told the BBC in May: "I don't think (Bedene) really believes he's British either. It's nothing against Aljaz. I like him. He's not confrontational in any way but to me it doesn't sit well if you play for another country.

"I don't feel bad about him, but for me it's a bit baffling as to why."